BOOK CLUB: Esther’s Children

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Esther’s Children by Caroline Beecham is a historical World War Two story of bravery and love.
The book is a work of fiction, inspired by the life of Esther (Tess) Simpson.

It is 1936 and Esther is the Assistant Secretary for the Protection of Science and Learning and is
travelling to Vienna. With her language skills and local knowledge Esther is the best person to extend
their network of contacts in Vienna and allow the Society to bring more scholars of Jewish ancestry
to safety in Britain.

Times have changed in Vienna. Esther has underestimated just how dangerous this trip will be.
On this trip Esther meets a young Jewish academic and musician, Harry Singer. Esther and Harry find
they have a lot in common and are both talented violinists. While on a sight seeing visit to the alps
Esther and Harry are taken for questioning and held by the SS. Esther fears for her own safety and
even more so for Harry, with whom she realises she has fallen in love.

On her return to England Esther works tirelessly to find employment, in either England or America,
for at risk academics and scientists.

She has already successfully saved many Jewish families.
Will she be able to find a position for Harry and get him to safety?
Will their love endure the stress of the war?

Esthers children

This book is well researched and a captivating read. I was invested in both the story of Esther and
Harry and also the research into Esther’s life and those she saved. It inspired me to read more about
this amazing woman and a society I knew nothing about.

The unspoken aim of the Society was to rescue scholars from Hitler.

Esther wrote thousands of letters to secure freedom for them and dealt with all the officialdom
required. The refugees became part of her extended family and she called them “her children”.

It is interesting to learn that without her dedicated work, World War Two could have easily ended
differently! A number of her rescued scientists played key parts in the race for the allies to develop
the atomic bomb.

There are 16 Nobel Prize winners amongst those saved. Even today the Society, now called the Council for at Risk Academics (Cara) continues to work rescuing academics and their families who are in danger.

Thank you to Caroline Beecham for bringing Esther’s intriguing story to the world. There are so many
heroic war efforts little is known about.

A fantastic read. I will definitely be reading Caroline Beecham’s other historical novels.

ISBN: 9781760879501
Copy courtesy of Allen & Unwin

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Esther’s Children by Caroline BeechamYou can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Esther’s Children

  1. Esther Simpson was a heroine during World War Two, working for a British organisation to rescue academics and scientists from across Europe and secure them positions in England. She put her whole heart into her job and put herself in high risk situations to help others.

    While in Austria she meets Harry and the love affair begins while the rest of the world starts falling apart. They are faced with many choices throughout the story to secure their future together or separately.

    This book is so interesting, the characters so real and I learnt a lot about organisations in that time and I learnt that many of the refugees were interned for fear of working for the other side. Even Harry spent time locked up as Esther tried tirelessly to get them all freedom again.

    Excellent read and well researched by the author. I highly recommend as it had me hooked.

  2. Caroline Beecham has written a compelling story of love and sacrifice set in World War Two.

    Esther Simpson works for the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, an agency that helps scholars across Europe find positions in England and America. She has dedicated her life to the cause and selflessly works very hard to help others, especially the Jews. She meets Harry Singer through this program and their romantic relationship blossoms while the threat of war is imminent.

    This is historical fiction that has been well-researched and the characters, especially Esther, have been brought to life beautifully. I loved reading about Esther’s life and although Harry was fictional, many of the other characters were based on real people.

    Thank you very much Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this book. I recommend it especially for those who like reading about war stories.

  3. Thankyou Beauty and Lace for giving me the opportunity to read this beautifully written historical war story .
    It is 1936 and Esther Simpson works for the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning, an agency that helps scholars across Europe find positions in England and America. She is determined to help scholars manly Jews to secure jobs in England .
    But is she taking a big risk especially as it is world war two.
    She also meets a fellow talented violinist by the name of Harry who is aso Jewish but can she also save Harry , Esther and Harry do a bit of sight seeing visiting the Alps until Esther and Harry are taken for questioning and held by the SS. Esther is worried about her safety and for Harrys as she has fallen in love with him .
    I loved reading about Esther and the turmoil faced in 1936 during world war two .
    Such a inspiring story .

  4. This book was a really enjoyable read. A good deal of research has gone into the story and the author has woven fact with fiction very effectively. Esther was a dedicated, passionate, inspirational woman who was instrumental in saving many lives during WW2 through her work with an organisation helping Jewish academics and scientists escape the Nazi regime. Her own private life suffered as a result but her legacy is priceless.
    Descriptions of Austria under Nazi rule and England during the war are graphic and the tension is maintained throughout. What an amazing woman Esther was! Thank you Beauty & Lace and Allen & Unwin for the opportunity to read and enjoy this book.

  5. I enjoyed this book right from the moment I picked it up. I loved the story outline and that it was based on true events. I love hearing about Esther and the life she lead even if the author created some of the story to suit ie Henry.
    I must admit tho, that about three quarters of the way in, once there was more fact rather than story on names and who was to be sent where, I did zone out and looked only for the story itself. But that in no way detracts from the overall storyline.

    I did learn a lot about the transfer of refugees and that I did not know that there was specific organizations for scholars etc. For that I thank the Author Carolin Beacham.

  6. Esther’s children was an easy, quick but well researched historical fiction which I enjoyed reading.
    I really liked Esthers character, and I loved Harry and was frantically reading along to see if he was ok and going to make it!
    What an incredible person Esther was, dedicating her life trying to get people out of war zones. I loved at the end of the book that the author had explained her research for the book as well, that was really interesting and showed the work that was put into this novel.
    Overall it was a great historical fiction and I will be looking for more of Caroline’s books in the future

  7. Another interesting and essentially untold story from World War Two. The work that the Society did by rescuing academics and scientists has shaped the world as we know it.

    The book is well researched and detailed, both from the historical side as well as the music side which plays a big part.

    I have to say I was a bit offended that Caroline Beecham felt the need to invent a love interest for Esther and find the author’s explanation was that she thought Esther deserved it quite presumptuous. Why did she need to be in love? Could she not have been happy with focusing on the remarkable work she did? I know Esther’s Children is essentially a work of fiction, but the love story was the weakest link and Esther’s story and those she saved is fascinating without it.

  8. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Author Caroline Beecham’s Esther’s Children.

    Esther Simpson diligently devotes herself to her job assisting academics and Scientists, namely Jews to leave countries where they are facing the risk of persecution during World War Two, a very risqué vocation! It is in 1936 when Esther is employed by the Society for the Protection of Learning and Science. Esther helps by ensuring the affected Academics and Scientists have the references and work required in order to emigrate and secure work in England and America. What struck me in particular was Esther’s devotion and true calling to help others at risk, despite her own risk. Majority of this work was done during the 1930’s and 1940’s, right at the time the Nazis were increasingly gaining strength.

    Whilst carrying out her work for the Protection Society, Esther meets talented Violinist Harry Singer and what follows is a love story caught in the crossfires of World War two.

    The book is quite detailed in classical music which may not be to every reader’s taste.
    It was fascinating to read the historical elements, particularly the treatment of refugees in the English internment camps and was a very enjoyable read.

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